Tag Archives: Bordeaux Wine School

Happy New Year!

This seems like just the right time to take a quick look at where my wine adventures have taken me in 2016 and at plans for 2017. I thought I’d let some photos do the talking, although looking back through the images of the year it has been a challenge to choose just a few to sum up the last 12 months – so here’s a go, by theme.

A year in drinks: as well as wine, there was quite a penchant for cocktails in 2016, my girlfriends responsible for this know who they are!

Comparing the old and the new identities of chateau Quintus in Saint Emilion

Comparing the old and the new identities of Château Quintus in Saint Emilion

Bordeaux Bubbles on the banks for the Dordogne at La Maison de l'Amiral

Bordeaux Bubbles on the banks of the Dordogne at La Maison de l’Amiral.

A Medoc Wine line up for staff at PLCB Fine Wines and good Spirits Harrisburg

A Médoc line up for staff at PLCB Fine Wines and Good Spirits, Harrisburg

Tasting the wonderful wines at Eisele in Napa

Tasting the wonderful wines at Eisele in Napa

An intimate tasting at Chateau Angelus

An intimate tasting at Chateau Angelus

Who said the Bordelais always take themselves too seriously? Not the Courselle sisters at Chateau Theuiley

Who said the Bordelais always take themselves too seriously? Not the Courselle sisters at Chateau Theuiley.

A beautiful example of how well Sauternes can age at Chateau Doisy Daëne.

A beautiful example of how well Sauternes can age at Chateau Doisy Daëne.

Frosé with Bordeaux Clairet - perfect summer drinking

Frosé with Bordeaux Clairet – perfect summer drinking

And for something completely different Lactilium Vodka from milk by the team at Chateau Gruaud Larose.

And for something completely different Lactilium Vodka made from milk, by the team at Chateau Gruaud Larose.

A year of food: wine goes with food goes with wine and I have been lucky enough to experience some wonderful meals in some wonderful settings. Some meals have been haute cuisine, others a simple vineyard lunch, even wine dinners in the tropics. All have served as research for my next book ‘The Drinking Woman’s Diet’,  which will be published in 2017, exploring how to stay healthy whilst drinking for a living.

Anniversary celebrations at Chateau Biac

Anniversary celebrations at Chateau Biac

Sunset Croquet at chateau Phelan segur

Sunset Croquet at Château Phelan Segur

Ready for dinner at Château Montrose

Ready for dinner at Château Montrose

A picnic basket ready for lunch on the terrace at Chateau Petit Village in Pomerol

A picnic basket ready for lunch on the terrace at Chateau Petit Village in Pomerol

A vineyard lunch at Chateau Guibeau

A vineyard lunch at Chateau Guibeau

Putting Bordeaux tutors to work on practical food and wine pairing during their accreditation.

Putting Bordeaux Tutors to work on practical food and wine pairing during their accreditation.

An after lunch glass of Chateau Sigalas Ribaud at the Belles Perdrix restaurant at Château Troplong Mondot that won it's 1st Michelin star in 2016.

An after lunch glass of Chateau Sigalas Ribaud at the Belles Perdrix restaurant at Château Troplong Mondot. They won their 1st Michelin star in 2016.

Lunch at the Chateau Haut Brion restaurant, Le Clarence in Paris

Enjoying lunch at the Chateau Haut Brion restaurant, Le Clarence, in Paris

Informal dining in a formal setting at Chateau Pichon Baron

Informal dining in a formal setting at Chateau Pichon Baron

from healthy

from healthy

A less healthy breakfast

to a less healthy breakfast

Settling for a happy medium

Settling for a happy medium

Healthy can be delicious at Viva Mayr

Healthy can be delicious – much needed detox at Viva Mayr in August.

Post cure retox!

Post cure retox!

A year of teaching: wonderful opportunities to share my experience and knowledge of Bordeaux to the East, the West and of course in Bordeaux, with more successful Accredited Bordeaux Tutor candidates. I continue to learn just as much from their knowledge of other wine regions as I share with them the latest from Bordeaux. It’s been fun doing video tastings too, especially the live tastings with the Cru Bourgeois to the US.

The beautiful view over Lake Geneva was a bit of a distraction at Glion Hotel School

The beautiful view over Lake Geneva was a bit of a distraction at Glion Hotel School

Explaining the particularities of Sweet Bordeaux at the Bordeaux Wine School

Explaining the Bordeaux wines at the Bordeaux Wine School

The future of Hong kong wine service with students at the Hotel and Tourism Institute of Hong Kong.

The future of Hong Kong wine service with students at the Hotel and Tourism Institute of Hong Kong.

The latest Bordeaux Tutor Accreditation at Chateau La Louviere

The latest 2016 Bordeaux Tutor Accreditation at Chateau La Louviere

Teaching sales team from Southern Wines and Spirits in California.

Teaching sales team from Southern Wines and Spirits in California.

Medoc masterclass with Swires Group service team at Upper House Hotel in Hong Kong.

Medoc Masterclass with Swires Group service team at Upper House Hotel in Hong Kong.

Wine, Women and clothes: Bordeaux bootcamp tasting at Susan Graf Ltd.

Wine, Women and clothes: Bordeaux Bootcamp tasting at Susan Graf Ltd.

A year of writing: for those of you who follow this Blog I’ve shared some of the news from Bordeaux and things I’ve learnt and enjoyed on my travels. For those who don’t please join us, or follow me on twitter, instagram or the Insider Tasting Facebook page.

I also contributed to other blogs, including the Great Wine Capitals blog, profiling the Bordeaux Best of Wine Tourism winners but it’s also an opportunity to discover other leaders in wine tourism across the globe – more of which below.

I updated my book Bordeaux Bootcamp, the Insider Tasting guide to getting to grips with  Bordeaux basics, with the latest facts and figures and I’m now working on the final draft of The Drinking Woman’s Diet, reuniting my two passions of Wine and Wellbeing explaining how the two are not mutually exclusive. It will be in print in 2017.

Bordeaux Bootcamp, Second edition is now available on Amazon.

Bordeaux Bootcamp, the second edition is now available on Amazon.

And finally a year of touring: welcoming guests to Bordeaux. With more and more properties opening their doors my guests can now stay in their very own Bordeaux chateau, where I introduce them to the wine makers, movers and shakers, experiencing the Bordeaux vineyard lifestyle for themselves.

Chateau Le Pape, one of the many chateaux in Bordeaux you can make your own.

Chateau Le Pape, one of the chateaux in Bordeaux you can make your own.

 

Modern cellars at Chateau Pedesclaux

Modern cellars at Chateau Pedesclaux

and at Beau Sejour Becot

and at Beau Sejour Becot

The historical cellars at Chateau de Cerons

historical cellars at Chateau de Cérons

A new take on an ancient wine making technique at Château La Maison Blanche

A new take on an ancient wine making technique at Château La Maison Blanche

Time for a tasting at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Time for a tasting at Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

Francois Despagne gets closer to the terroir at Chateau Grand Corbin Despagne

Francois Despagne gets closer to the terroir at Chateau Grand Corbin Despagne

Flowering of the 2016 vintage.

Flowering of the 2016 vintage.

Veraison

Veraison

The Sauvignon blanc at Chateau Olivier - some of the first grapes to be picked in 2016.

The Sauvignon blanc at Chateau Olivier – some of the first grapes to be picked in 2016.

Hand sorting the bunches of 2016 Merlot at Chateau Villemaurine in Saint Emilion

Hand sorting the bunches of 2016 Merlot at Chateau Villemaurine in Saint Emilion

Some hidden treasures : The vaulted well dating back to the Merovingian period at Chateau Coutet in Saint Emilion

Some hidden treasures : The vaulted Merovingian well at Chateau Coutet in Saint Emilion

 

Alexandre de Bethmann shares another secret - the ice house at Chateau Olivier.

Alexandre de Bethmann shares another secret – the ice house at Chateau Olivier.

An itimate Cru Bourgeois taking lunch for Bordeaux tutors at Château Peyrabon.

An itimate Cru Bourgeois tasting lunch for Bordeaux tutors at Château Peyrabon.

Next year? More of the same I hope but also some new destinations and different experiences. Already on the itinerary are: tours in the Rhone and Provence, a distillery tour in Scotland, seminars and master classes in Switzerland, the UK, Hong Kong and the annual coast-to-coast US Road-show with an appearance at the Women for Wine Sense conference in the Finger Lakes. Lots of opportunities to for you to join me with and new destinations you might like to add to your future wish list?

The new Cité du Vin in Bordeaux - for your 2017 to do list. Credit Arnaud Bertrande

The new Cité du Vin in Bordeaux – for your 2017 to do list.
Credit: Arnaud Bertrande

I look forward to welcoming those of you coming back to Bordeaux in 2017 and some of you for the first time, or to sharing Bordeaux with you in classrooms or conferences across the globe.

Future projects include corporate and wine and wellness retreats amongst the vines and I’m excited to be working on an International Wine Tourism project sharing some of the best from other leading wine producing countries, more of which to follow.

Wine and Wellness - it's all about the balance!

Wine and Wellness – it’s all about the balance!

Please contact me for more information or stay tuned to the blog, I’ll be sharing my progress.

Thank you to everyone who has joined me this year, if you haven’t please do so in 2017, it will be a busy year with many opportunities for us to meet up, I hope to see you.

Happy New Year!

A Bordeaux-Sonoma Bridge.

I first met Jennifer Higgins in 2008 during her 11-year stint as wine maker at Lancaster Estate on Chalk Hill, Sonoma. She was with a group spending a week at the Bordeaux Wine School. It was enlightening having a winemaker with us as we travelled around the Bordeaux Vineyards;she asked all the techy questions and we all profited from the answers.

Jennifer Higgins, Wine Maker at Lambert Bridge Winery

Jennifer Higgins, Wine Maker at Lambert Bridge Winery

Jen has a wealth of experience behind her; Sonoma born and raised, her experience has taken her though Napa and Italy before returning home, first to Lancaster Estate and now at Lambert Bridge. She has worked with such leading women wine makers as Zelma Long at Simi and Jill Davis at William Hill, and is heading to becoming a n icon herself.

Jennifer has been with Lambert Bridge since 2010 and head wine maker since 2015. Lambert Bridge is a family owned vineyard in Dry Creek Valley, Sonoma and their speciality are Bordeaux blends. How appropriate then that she and Shelby Kolpin, who looks after their wine club, decided to bring members of their wine club to Bordeaux to discover the vineyards of Bordeaux and their wines.

Team Lambert Bridge arrives at Château Le Thil

Team Lambert Bridge arrives at Château Le Thil

The atmosphere of the week was amazing, if the objective of Lambert Bridge was to create a club spirit – job done. To be honest I think the hospitality at Lambert Bridge has already achieved this. I was first there last year when Jen and her team took us through a tutored tasting of their wines.

Some of the hospitality at Lambert Bridge

Some of the hospitality at Lambert Bridge

Jen had already welcomed me warmly, along with a lot of other women in wine several years ago when she was at Lancaster so I wasn’t surprised by the intimate and friendly nature of the place, they have an open door policy. You can book a tasting of course but also just drop in. From what I can gather many club members hang out there on a pretty regular basis including picnicking and barbeques in the gardens. Others join their ‘chefs tables’ dinners where local chefs come and share their skills with intimate groups. For those who really can’t face the drive home across the eponymous trestle bridge, or who just want to make a weekend there is a cottage available to members. Their generosity doesn’t stop with club members and guests; they are heavily involved in charitable giving within the local community such as the Wine, Women and Shoes events.

But it is really about the wines, hand crafted, with more time spent by workers in the fields of the four estate vineyards and neighbouring partner vineyards than in the cellars. Harvest often involves multiple pickings even within a single plot looking for perfect ripeness and a research  towards elegance maintained through sustainable and precision plot by plot viticulture and an obsessive attention to detail.

A warm welcome and exacting production criteria – it’s a recipe for Jen Higgins to join the ranks of some of the iconic women wine makers she has worked with.

during the week in Bordeaux we covered a lot of ground; from left bank to right bank and from northern Medoc to southern Sauternes. We had a ball and, at the end of the week, I chatted to Jen about the things we shared together during the week.

W. How long is it since you last came to Bordeaux? 

J. My last visit to Bordeaux was in 2008 for a Master Class with the Ecole du Vin.  We had several Master Sommeliers and a couple of candidates for Master of Wine.  I was the only Winemaker- no pressure.

W. Did you see any changes since your last visit?

J. The city itself is much more open and beautiful.  Buildings and streets are cleaner and it seems so much more vibrant than it did in 2008.  We had a fantastic time exploring the city. This openness extended to the Chateauxas well in terms of wine production and techniques. It used to be that the guests only saw clean cellars and never any wine work or hoses.  Answers to production questions were geared more towards marketing than actual techniques.  Everything felt much more real this visit.

W. What was your biggest surprise in Bordeaux this time?

J. For me as a winemaker, walking through the best chateaux and thinking “We do that too.  Lambert Bridge hand-harvests and berry sorts our fruit, we use that press, we have those barrels”.  It was great fun (although very heavy) to bring over my wine to share with the owners and winemakers of Bordeaux.

W. You are known for your Bordeaux Blends. It’s a term used a lot in California. What exactly does a Bordeaux Blend mean to you?

J. I absolutely love working with Bordeaux red varietals and I love how the different grapes complement each other.  They are so closely related in aromas and structure, it is easy to build a complete wine from the different pieces.  Cabernet Sauvignon and Merlot provide an overlapping framework, Malbec fills the front, Petit Verdot the back and Cabernet Franc reinforces the foundation.  It’s great to see them all play nicely together.

 

Tasting Bordeaux Blends at Chateau Pichon Baron in Pauillac

Tasting Bordeaux Blends at Chateau Pichon Baron in Pauillac

W. What did you take away from this trip, technically, wine making or out in the vineyards?  

J. It was great to see the combination of traditional and modern techniques being used in the wineries. I saw horses plowing fields in Graves, learned about density sorting techniques in St. Emillon and tannin management in Saint Julien.  I try to take away one good idea from every place I visit. My travel notebook is full!

W. What do you think Bordeaux could learn from how things are done in California? 

J. I’m not sure. There is a lot more flexibility about what to grow and how to grow and market wine in California than in France. In some ways it makes California winemaking more dynamic but I am envious of the traditions and history of French wine. The long history and experiences with certain grape varieties is something that we just don’t have here.

W. One of the visits was to a barrel maker. You use French barrels at Lambert Bridge, what is it you are looking for in the choice of French oak?

I’m always looking for sweetness from the wood.  I want the oak to cradle the fruit, not mask it.  French oak barrels seem to do the best job with our wines.

More fin and games at the Cooperage of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

More fun and games at the Cooperage of Chateau Smith Haut Lafitte

W. You mentioned  you would like to come back to Bordeaux and have more time to get intimate with the region and it’s wine makeing. What would you be most keen to look at or learn?

J. I would love to spend more time in the vineyards with the growers and cellars with production people.  There are a thousand decisions that go into every bottle of wine and to see the thought process behind some of the great Bordeaux wines would be a privilege.

I can’t wait to welcome her back. 

Jennifer Higgins through a Bordeaux tasting glass.

Jennifer Higgins through a Bordeaux tasting glass.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Do you want to know more about Bordeaux wine?

Of course you do and the obvious place to learn about Bordeaux wine is in Bordeaux, at the Bordeaux Wine School. But if you can’t get to the Bordeaux Wine School, the Bordeaux Wine School can come to you.

Since 1990 The School has been teaching consumers, distributors, sommeliers, in fact anyone with an interest, professional or otherwise in Bordeaux wine. As part of the CIVB (Conseil Interprofessional des Vins de Bordeaux) or Bordeaux Wine Council, their objective is to teach an up to date vision of Bordeaux wines, breaking some of the out-dated myths surrounding the region and presenting the dynamism of the wine makers to wine enthusiasts and professionals. This is done via a range of training programmes from 2 hours to several weeks.

Over 200,000 people have followed the Bordeaux Wine School programmes world wide since its creation and last year 48 000 of them did so outside of Bordeaux. This is thanks to a network of over 200 certified Bordeaux wine Educators and 40 partner wine schools both public and private. The schools include leading hotel schools such as Cornell and Johnson and Wales in the US, AWSEC, IVE and ASC in Asia as well as many other WSET programme providers worldwide.

A worldwide networks of schools to learn about Bordeaux

A worldwide networks of schools to learn about Bordeaux

These tutors have been selected as wine experts in their own field and country and after an intensive training in Bordeaux have successfully passed a exam certifying them as an accredited tutor. You can download the list of accredited tutors here to find out where you can take Bordeaux wine classes with a certified Educator near you.

If you prefer learning at home there are so many books about Bordeaux to help and new ones appear on the shelf every year. Here are a few of my favorites perhaps as late Christmas presents for enthusiasts; Oz Clarke’s Bordeaux, is a great introduction to Bordeaux, covering the whole of Bordeaux not just the famous names. The Finest Wines of Bordeaux: A Regional Guide to the Best Chateaux and Their Wines by James Lawther is another good read and James also wrote the excellent Heart of Bordeaux about the all too often-overlooked Pessac Leognan appellation. On the subject individual appellations Neal Martin’s recently published Pomerol is a seminal work on this small but fascination appellation.

If you like history, 1855, A history of the Bordeaux Classification by Dewey Markham Jr remains the go-to guide for understanding why and how the famous 1855 classification came into being and also on this subject, if you want to understand the history of the top 5 growths of this classification, Bordeaux Legends by Jane Anson (also a certified Bordeaux educator) gives an intimate account of each of the properties.

Bordeaux Legends by Jane Anson

Bordeaux Legends by Jane Anson

The new edition of the ‘FeretThe Bordeaux Bible has just been published. It lists in detail all the chateaux, growers and negociants of the region – a really useful guide, especially to some of the lesser-known properties of Bordeaux and a great tool for those of you looking for information about the wines you are tasting.

The web can help too. www.bordeaux.com is, of course, a great source of information and another of the Bordeaux Wine School partners; Berry Brothers and Rudd has excellent education content on its website where you can also purchase the wines of course.

And then there are wine apps, of which there are many. One, Smart Bordeaux, helps explain what is behind the label, an issue some consumers struggle with. The lack of blend information for example can be confusing if you don’t know much about Bordeaux appellations (the education above will of course help with that!). If you can’t remember your Saint Emilion from your Saint Julien blends for example download the Smart Bordeaux app and by taking a photo of the label on the bottle of Bordeaux in front of you all should be revealed.

The best way to learn of course is with a glass of Bordeaux in your hand, so enjoy your homework!

Cheers

Cheers

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Christmas comes early to Bordeaux.

There’s still time to do some Christmas shopping in Bordeaux. Make a quick dash to Chateau Biac in Langorian this week. Overlooking the Garonne river their beautiful new tasting room and boutique is now open again after flooding in the July storms. As well as tasting their Cote de Bordeaux red and sweet Cadillac wines you will discover some unusual gifts selected by the owners, Youmna and Tony Asseily from their homeland Lebanon and other exotic places. They are open from Tuesday through Saturday up until Christmas and Fridays and Saturdays in the New Year.

The beautiful new 'oriental' shop at chateau Biac

The beautiful new ‘oriental’ shop at chateau Biac

In Bordeaux city the traditional Christmas market in the Allées de Tourny has been up and running since 26th November and will be until the 28th December so plenty of time to shop there. A stone’s throw away at the beautiful ‘Palais de la Bourse’ and for the 3rd year running The Bordeaux Tasting  organised by the French Wine Magazine ‘Terre de Vins’ will be taking place on 13-14th December. Over 150 properties mainly from Bordeaux but also further afield, including champagne will be presenting their wines and The Bordeaux Wine School will be running workshops during the 2 days event.

Or the same weekend, travel south to Barsac where  Chateau GravasChateau Myrat and Chateau Dudon will open their doors to the cultural association Gravelor and their guests.

This weekend (6/7th) you will be spoilt for choice, as well as the Pessac Leognan open days (see previous post) there is a Christmas market in the beautiful ‘bastide’ town of Creon in the Entre deux Mers and in another one not far away in Saint Emilion. While you are there  you can also discover Saint Emilion with a glass of a mulled wine after a guided walk of the village and its Monolithic Church every Saturday in December and most days of the Christmas holidays – hot chocolate will be on hand for younger guests.

Happy Christmas shopping and tasting!

 

Vintage education

 

Come back to school

Come back to school

2013 was a great vintage for the Bordeaux Wine School (l’Ecole du vin de Bordeaux) with over 82 000 people passing through the doors either in Bordeaux or further afield with one of our overseas partners. You can see some of School activities at Bordeaux Fête Wine le Vin here.

Trade roadshow in Las Vegas

Trade roadshow in Las Vegas

In France 11 500 students, journalists, trade and enthusiastic amateurs joined us in Bordeaux (+27% on 2012), and abroad 71 000 (+20%) either at trade roadshows (saw some of you there), wine festivals or with our 209 accredited tutors and 36 arccredited schools. If you didn’t make it last year try this year. The 2014 calendar is on line or join us at Bordeaux Fête le Vin this June.

 

 

Bordeaux Workshops in the USA

Over the next couple of weeks I will be travelling the USA with the Bordeaux Wine School and Sopexa Presenting at the Bordeaux Workshops. Starting with New York on 14th, then Chicago on the 16th and San Francisco on the 21st. There may be some places left. If you would like join us please contact Yulia Florinskaya at Sopexa for more details. Yulia.FLORINSKAYA@sopexa.com